Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Sea Creatures from the Australian Coast- dolphins, whales, stingrays and sharks

This is my latest set of bookmarks and motifs from downunder. I designed these guys mid last year and they have taken me for ever to bring to completion. I sort of got distracted by other stuff, and then Steve Irwin died so the timing for the sting ray just didn't seem right.

I have grown up by the sea, and I just love to watch the sea life. We are so lucky here because Sea world is also just down the road and they have the most amazing shark tank and water shows. The other wonderful sea life display is at the Townsville aquarium up North. They have one of those glass tubes that you walk through and the fish and sea life swim around you. this is the closest I have been to a sting ray and it was a magnificent experience.

The snubfin dolphin is a separate species to other dolphins and lives off the Queensland Coast. They were only classified in 2005 and have a high conservation priority. He is different from other dolphins in that the dorsal fin is a bit smaller and the skin colour variegated. I just love watching these creatures as they leap out of the water, and frolic in the sea. The pattern for this can really be any dolphin and they work up well in both a cotton thread, as well as an 8ply yarn. I made a few of these as bookmarks and they are quick and easy.

The Great White shark, also known as a pointer shark is listed as vulnerable on the endangered species list. These guys are slowly decreasing in numbers, mainly attributable to over fishing, and the practice of “finning” to make shark fin soup. They are a lonesome creature, often travelling alone, and an invaluable part of the oceanic ecosystem. They have the distinctive sharky grin with over 2,800 teeth and prey on large marine mammals such as seals, sea-lions, dolphins as well as large fish, turtles and even sea birds. This fellow often makes the news for snacking on surfers. This bloke is pretty effective as well in either a cotton thread or a heavier yarn.

The stingray is a non aggressive bottom dweller who lives in our Great Barrier Reef. This is the creature that killed Steve Irwin; an unlikely and tragic event. The stingray is a graceful swimmer, and there are a number of species from plain colours to the spotted ray. The pattern for this is really simple and I like how the tail works as a book mark.

The humpback whale is seen off the Queensland Coast as they migrate south to Antarctica from the Great Barrier Reef in July. They have a distinctive hump on their back and are fascinating to watch as they leap and breach out of the ocean. Under water they sing beautiful songs. Humpbacks are on the endangered species list. Whale hunting must stop if they are to survive. They are a political animal causing much friction between Australia and the countries whose fishermen sail illegally into our seas to kill them. The humpback is my favourite of this set. I have endeavoured to be as anatomically correct as I can. Just before Christmas last year my sons and I spotted a pod of whales off the coast at Cooloongatta. I could sit for hours just waiting for one to breech or spurt.

This is one of my favourite spots on the Coast. Isn't is magical?

re the Sea creatures, I have listed them on my etsy store.

Thanks for looking.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Chinese year of the red fire pig

Happy Chinese New Year!

This weekend celebrates Chinese New year. This has become a bit of an event here, particularly in some of the communities that were settled by the Chinese. One of the fun things about living in a multicultural society is the numerous celebrations we enjoy. You cant beat the Chinese for fantastic fireworks, festivities with the dragons and fantastic food.
The following years are pig years: 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995 and 2007.
The year 2007 is the year of the red fire pig. According to Chinese astrology, children born in the year of the pig will be happy and honest.

Chinese people in Australia
The Chinese have a strong link with our history.When the first fleet arrived and dropped off British convicts, it went back to England via Canton.In the 1850s Gold Rush over 40,000 Chinese people moved to Australia. For the first time civilians outnumbered convicts. So basically the population were the British officials, the British Convicts and the Chinese workers. Of course the indigeneous people had been here for a very long time. The colonists would use the Chinese people as cheap labour (as happened in many other settling colonies)and because of the famine in China at that time, many Chinese sought refuge, a new life, and opportunity in Australia.
Things such as the Eureka stockade, and in the early 20th century the White Australia policy demonstate an unpleasant component such as racial discriminatation.Today people from Chinese backgrounds are the 5th largest ethnic group in Australia. Most of our cities have a China Town, and the Chinese are very active and valued people in our society. China is also a major trading country with us, and my kids have studied Chinese in school as this is seen as a most beneficial second language to have.

Pigs in Australia

Pigs have a bad reputation in Australia. They were introduced in the 1770’s, as domesticated farm animals as a food source for the new colony. Due to a lack of fences and pens, and inadequate control in these times, feral pig populations were soon established in the wild. Because of this “pig shooting” or “boar hunting” became a pastime as officials tried to reduce the number of feral pigs. When I was a kid I can remember my Dad and uncle would load up the ute, go bush and go pig shooting. I can't think of anything more revolting, except perhaps for roo shooting.

The feral pig has a huge impact on the Australian environment and is considered one of Australia’s worst pests. Feral pigs erode the soil and waterways; they kill farmed animals such as lambs and carry disease which affects our native wildlife. Feral pigs will eat animals and plants, in particular small mammals, frogs, birds, lizards and eggs. When they wallow in the billabongs and creeks they destroy the water vegetation and disturb the ecosystem. They pose a huge threat to our native animals and wildlife. There is nothing cute about a wild pig!

Our daughter, (believe it or not) worked part time in the pig industry for the Pig Board eqivalent here while she was at uni. She told me everyone had piggy things on their desks. She also told me that even farmed pigs are pretty nasty. We had pigs on the farm when I was a small child and I always remember my younger brother being bitten on the belly by an aggressive sow. People would ask hin "where's your belly where the pig bit you?" and he would show them. He still has a scar.

So I decided that number 6 in my rugalugs series would be pigs, albeit a feral animal, but also in honor of the Chinese year of the pig. The pigs alone make great little brooches for a piggy party, and I reckon with a magnet glued on the back they could become fridgies. My son who is always full of bright ideas suggested doing the pigs bum with the tail, and this looks good on the back of the hat.

I think they turned out pretty cute, despite my reservations.

The chocolaty brown hat looks good for an older child. Again I have this predisposition to do things for boys because I also have 3 sons. I reckon crochet for boys is always a bit ho hum so I put a bit of effort into making it a bit blokey but also with attitude.

When worked in a 4ply baby yarn they are pretty special. I reckon these would make a different sort of baby gift for bubs born in the year of the pig. While red isn't every ones cup of tea for a baby, I think it is quite effective. Certainly a change from the pinks and blues.

I designed a baby's beanie, and then went on to make a matching pair of booties. These are really something else! I hadn't designed booties before, but once I worked out what to do with the pig I was on a roll. When worked in 4 ply they are perfect for a newborn bub.

I have just listed this little lot on etsy. It is the complete patterns set from pig motif, 3 types of squares - pig face, pigs bum and a contrast square. Also included are full instructions for the heat and booties. This is a bumper set but I felt it worthwhile to achieve something different for year of the pig.

So while they are feral beasts that stuff up the ecosystem, being on a babies beanie and booties is a good place for a pig to be!

Again my images and ideas are copyright. Please do not download my pictures. Direct links are always welcome!

Happy Chinese New Year!

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Red Eyed Frogs - crochet rugalugs motif square

When I was a kid frogs used to be everywhere. I remember we had a creek and a dam down the back paddock and there would always be tadpoles swimming about. I haven't seen a frog for a while now, and even the cane toads seem to be diminishing in numbers.

I can think of 3 reasons for this -firstly the drought which we are in, and secondly the loss of our forests, and thirdly I haven't been up to the rainforest for a while!

I have been thinking about frogs for a while and wasn't sure how to tackle them in crochet. I decided that the red eyed frog was the perfect model. This little guy lives high in our rain forest trees and is nocturnal. The red eyed frog is also called the southern orange eye frog, or the red eyed green tree frog. They live in the rainforest's of Queensland and Northern New South Wales, along the eastern side of Australia. They have the most amazing eyes which vary from reds through to oranges. This is a pretty frog and there is a similar bloke who lives in the rain forest in South America. They are front page material for National Geographic and the like as they are very photogenic. Amphibians are a very important part of our eco system and we need to preserve them. I would like to think that my grand kids will be able to experience frogs.

Once I got the idea of what I was doing, I was on a roll. I now am kneedeap in froggy motifs! Different colours, different eyes, but full of froggy goodness.

Not an easy task getting then to sit in a square, but I reckon they look as though they have just landed on the rug!

I then started making a few hats. I was thinking about walking in the rain forest, and a green tree frog or red eyed frog landed splat on your head. The image amuses me as I am always a bit jumpy when I walk through the bush. There are so many creepy crawlies who knows what you encounter.

I am enjoying these and they are a bit cheeky. Perfect for boys, who are usually hard to crochet for. I am trying to destash and don't have the energy for any more larger projects so these beanies are the way to go. The gaudy colours seem to work well. Each hat takes me a few hows to do, but they give me a smile when I finish.

My rugalug fun motifs fro kids series is growing. I now have ducklings, koalas, penguins, kangaroos and frogs. I have a few more in the pipeline and then I have run out of ideas until something inspires me. The weather is still hot so these squares are quick projects to keep me busy.

Thanks for looking, and remember all the copyright stuff. I try and be as original as possible with my designs.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

True Blue Kangaroo

Meet True Blue Kangaroo. I have had a ball of 12 ply Magnum beating around the cupboard for a while and I decided to make a larger version of the Wallaby Joeys that I posted recently.

This guy is the true patriot with the flag and all. I worked True Blue up over the Australia Day weekend.

There is more to True Blue though than a ball of yarn; as there is a more meaningful yarn to be told.

The movie "The Shiralee" was released in 1957. This one starred Peter Finch and was based on the book written by Darcy Niland. the story is about a man whose wife leaves him and their child. I recently saw "In the Pursuit of Happyness" and the basic theme is very similar. A father trying very hard to raise a child and make a living through times of bad luck and hardship. The "Pursuit of Happyness" is a great movie, but I would argue that the original 1957 "The Shiralee" is pretty good viewing as well. Hard to imagine this is 50 years old now, yet the story still strikes a chord.

The word "Shiralee" means burden, and his daughter Buster is Macauly's burden as he swags across Australia trying to find work. The movie was remade in the late 80s and this time had Brian Brown as Macauly. Brown always plays a stereotypical ocker Australian.

The significance of this to the kangaroo is that in the movie the little girl Buster - has one toy, a rough looking kangaroo that she names "Gooby". Mcauley drags Buster with him as he seeks work, and Buster drags Gooby along.

I have searched on the net and I cant find much about Gooby.

When I was a child an uncle gave me a stuffed kangaroo and I called him "Gooby". Gooby was very special. My Uncle died soon after in a car accident and I can remember the distress in my family at the time. Gooby was my childhood cuddly. Kangaroo cuddlies are great as you can lovingly strangle them by the neck, drag them around by the tail or the ear. I don't know what ever happened to my Gooby, but I can remember the smell. It was made of real kangaroo pelt. Something that we would never do now! I remember the bare patches where the fur had rubbed off over the years. I hadn't though about this much until recently.

So here I am now, many years later trying to reconstruct a Gooby in crochet. So I called this one True Blue Kangaroo cos she is True Blue with a story to tell.

I am going to make some more for the school fete later in the year. I will make some male roos as well although having a pouch does come in handy. Did you know that only the female roo has a pouch? The males done need one as they don't have a joey to carry around.

Just a bit of trivia for you.

Thanks for looking and reading my story.

As usual, these images are protected by copyright. You may link to this page, but you may not save or transmit my photos.